Back in September, when I was in Oahu, I had decided that I really wanted to try snorkeling.  I was determined, but scared.  I had never done anything like that before.  The Hanauma Bay is stunningly beautiful and known for snorkeling.  After reading up on the preserve, I planned my trip for Wednesday.  The easy way to go to the preserve is by bus.  The parking lot fills up many days and they turn you away if you don’t arrive early enough to park.  I made my way to the bus stop near our hotel and waited for the #22 bus.  After a few minutes, I noticed that the #22 bus didn’t stop at the stop I was waiting at.  Oops!

The bus only runs once an hour and I had little time to figure out where to find the bus and get there before the bus came.  I made it with 3 minutes to spare!

It was so obvious that I was on the right bus.  Everyone that got on the bus was obviously going to the preserve.  They either had bathing suits, snorkeling equipment or other beach items with them.

The scenery was awesome.


Once I paid admission, there was a 25 minute wait for the mandatory movie about the preserve and how to treat it.  During the wait, I looked at the exhibits and met Alison and Kelly.  They were in Hawaii for a conference and I asked them if I could snorkel with them.  I didn’t think it was safe to snorkel alone.  After the movie, we had the option of paying for a tram or walking the hill.  We opted to walk the hill and stopped for photos, too.



Once at the bottom, we rented our equipment and locker and got ready.  The locker turned out to be a spot in the rental area.  They didn’t have public access, but our bags weren’t exactly locked up either. I had a small waterproof bag with me for my money and identification and felt ok with leaving my other belongings in the “locker”.

I had bought a disposable water camera for this part of the trip.  Most of the photos weren’t great, but here are a few worth sharing.

Here’s a photo of me ready to go out in the water.  I put a shirt on over my suit since everything I read talked about how easy it was to get a sunburned back while out in the water.


I saw lots of fish.  Sadly, many photos didn’t turn out.


Here’s Alison and Kelly.  I really enjoyed meeting them.  They were fun and made me comfortable with my snorkeling adventure.


Snorkeling isn’t something I would want to do every day, but I’m sure glad I tried it while I was in Hawaii.


My husband and I like to watch the Iron Chef.  We’ve also watched two seasons of the Next Iron Chef.  We’ve been to a couple of Michael Symon’s restaurants, so when my sister told me there was a Morimoto restaurant in Waikiki, we definitely wanted it on our to do list.  Since I don’t really care for sushi, we checked out the menu before we made reservations and decided we’d be able to find things that we liked.  The restaurant turned out to be a short walk from our hotel.


It was the dinner that made me glad that I brought a skirt to Hawaii.  We were greeter by Josh our server and these beautiful chopsticks.  I asked for a fork, but I still thought they were cool looking.


I was impressed with the iced tea.  It came in a carafe with a  cup of simple syrup for sweetener.  I love iced tea and this was fun.


After much discussion, everyone at our table ordered the Omakase which was a multi-course tasting menu designed to allow us to experience the essence of Morimoto’s cuisine.  We had 9 courses in total and they change regularly, so you never have the same meal twice.

1. Toro and Hamachi Tartare

Minced fatty tuna and yellowtail with condiments of wasabi, nori puree, Maui onion, rice crackers, crème fraiche, guacamole served with a dashi soy. Yamamomo to cleanse the palate.

Thoughts: I was surprised that I liked this course since there were tons of flavors that I would never order.  It was very tasty and disappeared by the end of the course.


2. Hot oil sashimi(seasonal fish)

topped with ginger, garlic, citrus soy, king oyster mushroom, shiso then seared with hot oil to seal the flavor.

Thoughts:  I forgot to snap a photo.  It was tasty.

3. Bagna Cauda

Seasonal vegetables and deep fried chicken thigh served with a dipping sauce of garlic , anchovy and olive oil. Garnished with Shichimi Togarashi powder, house made foccacia.

Thoughts:  You can’t tell in the photo, but this was kind of like a fondue course.  The oil is hot and there is a flame underneath keeping it hot.  It was the “be careful” dish since we definitely didn’t want to spill anything.  The dipping sauce was tasty even though it had anchovy.  All of the accompaniments were fresh and good as well.


4. Foie Gras Chawanmushi

Thinly sliced roasted duck breast over foie gras infused egg custard, dashi soy, fresh wasabi.

Thoughts:  I liked this dish.  Apparently, many people don’t care for it.  I loved that the serving bowl looked like it was designed for this dish.  The presentation throughout the courses was outstanding.


5. Intermezzo

Konbu cha, sea kelp tea

Thoughts:  I hated this tea.  I’m not sure what it tasted like, but yuck!


6. Chef’s selection seasonal nigiri sushi

Thoughts:  So, I ate the sushi.  That was a big deal.  I didn’t care for the one with the green or the one with the sauce, but the other three were quite delicious.


7. Surf and Turf

Pan roasted lobster with a garam masala spice mix, wagyu filet with Maui onion jus, ginger pork with a peanut sauce, pear marmalade, macadamia nuts

Thoughts:  The main course was really good.  I liked that the three things I was trying to pick from on the menu originally were all included in this course.  The sauce on the beef was a bit salty for my taste, but everything was perfectly cooked.


8. Pre dessert

Kuro mitsu gelee over soymilk panna cotta

Thoughts:  This was good, but unremarkable.


9. Kabocha soufflé cake

candied kabocha, Okinawan sweet potato ice cream

Thoughts:  This was really good and I forgot to snap a photo before it was gone.  It was fun to have kabocha in a dessert because I had just bought one at a farmer’s market a week or two before.


This was one of the best meals that I have ever had.  The service was outstanding and each course was unique and adventurous.  I’m not usually as daring with food, but this was an opportunity that I could not pass up.  I wonder if I’ll get the opportunity to visit another Iron Chef restaurant some day.

 Posted by at 7:57 PM

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been back from Hawaii for over a month and I still haven’t written all of my posts about my trip.

The last day in Oahu, we made a stop at the Dole Plantation.  It was on my list of things to see since I had never seen pineapple growing before.  I didn’t think it was worth the time on a bus to go, so I was glad that we had a car on the last day.


We didn’t have a lot of time, so we opted for the 20 minute, 2 mile train tour.


It was very commercial, but I still was able to see many things growing that I hadn’t seen before.  The mango reminded me of my trip to Africa where many times people were selling them at the side of the road.


Lychee fruit always looks weird in the store.  I didn’t know that it came from a tree.  The photo on the right is pineapple.  I never realized it was planted in the ground.  It was very interesting to learn about.


Toward the end of the ride, we saw this picturesque reservoir.


At the end of the trip, they gave everyone a sample piece of pineapple.  It was the best bite of pineapple that I have ever eaten.

We ended our short visit with a little shopping in their highly commercial gift shop.  We didn’t buy much since most of the items came from China and had nothing to do with Dole or Hawaii.


One of the things on my to do list while in Hawaii was a hike.  I had originally planned on two hikes, Manoa Falls and Diamond Head.  These are the two main hikes that everyone suggests.  I decided that I shouldn’t hike on my own.  My sister and I had time for one hike together and decided on Manoa Falls.  The guide books call it an easy hike.  I’m not sure if I agree.


The hike is about .8 miles and it’s in the lush, wet, rainforest.  It’s hard to believe that there is rainforest just a short drive from Waikiki.  Everything was very green and very muddy.


It rained most of our hike.  I was super glad that I had packed my hiking poles and boots for the trip.


I loved the scenery.  The photo on the right is bamboo.


Once we reached the end of the trail by the bottom of the falls, we took a few photos.


Then, we headed back down.


I was super glad to do this hike, but I thought it was difficult due to the wet and muddy surfaces.  I’d highly recommend it.


We were happy to head back to the hotel for showers when we were done.

 Posted by at 7:03 PM

On our last night in Hawaii, we decided to go to a Luau.  We ended up choosing the one at the Polynesian Cultural Center.


Besides the luau, the center has the cultures of 7 different Polynesian island nations represented.  We didn’t arrive early enough to do too much exploring, but we caught the Samoa show.


He had a comedian like show that was quite entertaining and educational.  Teaching us things like how the Samoan men are the ones who cook!  He started a fire, cleaned a coconut and told lots of bad jokes in the process.


Upon entering the luau, we were greeted with leis.


We were seated at rectangular banquet tables with 2 other parties.  The people across from us were nice enough to take a photo of us.


During the buffet dinner, we had a fun show to watch.



The food was “ok”.  It was certainly banquet style food.  It was not the highlight of the night.  I did get to enjoy a foo foo drink from pineapple.  It was basically a mango smoothie, but it was fun!


After the luau, we headed to their evening show called Breath of Life.  It was really well done and involved lots of fire, drumming and dancing. We enjoyed our night and it was a good way to spend out last night in Hawaii.


I think that fact that I was going to Hawaii actually hit me at LAX (Los Angeles) airport when I saw the flight information for the Honolulu leg.  I flew from CLE to LAX and had a 2 hour layover before heading west.  When I arrived in Honolulu, the view from the airport was amazing.  It was also different to be walking from a terminal to baggage claim and be outside.  Hawaii doesn’t need much in the way of enclosed structures, so they don’t build extra walls.


As I went down the escalator to baggage claim, I got my first Aloha!  Once we got our rental car, we headed to our hotel.  On our way down the main street, we saw this bicyclist.  He was the type who looked like all of his belongings were with him.  He was swerving in and out of traffic and flicking people off every chance that he got.  It was quite hilarious since of course it was the fault of all of the drivers that he was riding like and idiot.


We wanted to remember where we parked in the deck, so I took this shot of my sister.  We were parked in 127, also known as 128 minus 1.  We stayed in the Kalia Tower of the Hilton Hawaiian Village.  It was a nice resort hotel with 6 towers, a few pools, several restaurants and lots of shops.  It was located a few steps to the beach.


By the time we got to our hotel and got situated it was time for dinner and we were exhausted from a long day of travel and the time change.  We headed to CJ”s New York Style Deli inside the hotel complex.  The food was unremarkable, but it was close and easy.  We found an ABC store (cross between a convenient store and a souvenir shop) so I could buy my bus pass.


I think it was about 7:30PM when we get back to out hotel room.  We joked about whether we’d still be awake by 8PM.  It was a long day, but I was thrilled to be in Oahu.

 Posted by at 8:58 PM

I really love plant tours.  It probably stems from being in operations for most of my corporate career.  I really enjoy seeing how things are made and processed.  When I go on vacation, I like to seek out local plant tours whenever possible.  While I was in Hawaii, I was able to go to Lion Coffee, where they conduct tours of their plant on the hour.  I had a little trouble finding the place, so I arrived just after the 2PM tour time and had about an hour to wait for the next tour.  I enjoyed a frozen coffee beverage and their café while I waited.


The receptionist gives the tours.  They are rather low key and she ended up giving me my tour early.  I was the only one on my tour.  I was so surprised that half way through my tour I asked if I could take photos and she said sure.  I wish I had asked sooner!

Lion Coffee brings in beans from Hawaii and other places around the world.  They roast, flavor, package and grind them.

This is the coffee packaging area.


The big one “super sack” in the middle of the left photo is full of coffee.  The photo on the right has test equipment for determining the roast of coffee.  Light, medium and dark roasts have certain scores from the machine and each batch is tested to ensure proper labeling.


The photo on the left is more test equipment including a machine used to test the vacuum seal of bags of coffee.  This is one way they ensure freshness.  The coffee lasts about a year.  The photo on the right is the company cafeteria or break area.  It was a nice set up with a garage door that opened to the street.


They also have tea and I was able to see them bag, label and package tea.

I ended up purchasing some coffee for gifts as well as some tropical tea from their retail store before I headed to the bus stop.  I had never seen the roasting and packaging process and I was glad that I made the trip to check it out.


On Saturday, September 24th, I visited the Byodo-in Temple with my sister Holly.  We paid $3 each to enter the memorial park.  The structure is a non-denominational Buddhist temple and is located near the Ko’olau Mountains.  It’s amazing that it was built without nails.  You can read all about its history at their site.

Here are a few photos:

The entrance.


The temple.


View from the temple.


Bell to ring for good luck before entering (and after making a donation).


Buddha shrine.


Lyn at the temple.


Holly at the temple.


The United States of America flag with the Hawaii state flag below along with mountains in the background.


It was a peaceful stop on our way to the North Shore.  Thanks to my friend Shayna for suggesting it.


On Tuesday, my first full day in Hawaii, I went to see Pearl Harbor. It was a solemn trip and totally worth it.  The new visitor center and displays are well done.

This was my view as I debarked from the city bus.  It was the easiest way to get here from my hotel.


Once I arrived at the visitor’s area, I received a ticket for the 8AM theatre presentation.


While I waited for my presentation time, I walked around the monuments.


I also looked at the Bowfin submarine from the outside.  The whole area was rather park like.


This is a photo of the text from a letter sent from President Roosevelt to Emperor Hirohito of Japan on December 6th, 1941.  You can read the text here. It really struck a chord with me.


The USS Arizona sunk in 9 minutes.  It burned for over 2 days.  After a short film, I took a Navy boat over to the memorial.


You can see some of the ship still above the water.  Some of the ship is visible just under the water.


The memorial is an open building that sit above the sunken ship.


A US flag flies over the memorial.  Here’s a view from the boat as we head back to the visitor’s center area.


I can’t imagine going to Oahu without going to Pearl Harbor.  It’s such a huge part of our history.  I’m glad that this visit was early in my trip so I could spend time enjoying some of the more positive aspects of the island.